Star Trek: The Tour: The Review
Alright, alright, alright. I had a pretty terrible experience at Star Trek:The Tour. I will spare you the beaming, the boldly going, the warping, the whatever. My bad experience begins by being warned against anything more powerful than an iPhone to snap up photo opportunities. So bring your own camera if you boldly go, because once you arrive, you are issued your very own USS Enterprise NCC-1701 Card to interact with various photo-ops. More about that.
Before I teabag these Ferengi, let me qualify one thing: the staff was nice. Although STAR TREK: THE TOUR is held until March 2nd, 2008, the hard-working red shirts in the exhibition hall treat it like it opened yesterday. Not sure how many staff members are going with the Tour when it wraps and travels the world, but it ain’t easy for a guy to suspend his disbelief. A more hirsute, knuckle-dragging bunch might have grown surly over the ubiquitous Vulcan salutes, the “Live Long and Prosper” shout-outs, the whole thing.
So let me walk you through the tour. I recommend $6 for “a thing with buttons on it that explains what you might encounter”, which you can rent upon arrival. It is the only money worth spending here.
There are many things to see, many life-sized statues of beloved STAR TREK characters and monsters, future history lessons, costumes, props and trivia machines. You can admire detailed star maps of every planet in the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta Quadrants that was relevant to any of the shows and movies. There are Klingon thrones and tribbles and Andorian heads and a Rosetta stone at the entrance written in English and in two languages that only Trekkers can identify.
Our first stop was a kind of glorified photo booth to play various fan roles against original series footage, and we seized upon that. First, you give the attendant your card and they swipe it — more about that very soon. Then you choose one of three scripts. My dear Arabian Princess chose the Klingon one and I begged her to do the whole thing in Arabic but she didn’t. OK, it was a fun gimmick to read off the teleprompter and do the pratfall when the ship gets hit, yadda yadda, with the benefit of a chroma-keyed Klingon battle cruiser. But you CAN’T view back your performance! No, you can’t! You are welcome to purchase an MPEG of it, burned to a DVD, for $39.99! That aforementioned Star Trek Card? It stores the handle of all your fan film attempts at the Trek Store. So we roll in at the store and ask to watch the video and instead are shown a measly twenty second sans audio preview at one of the sales stations. And it was the worst, most lame twenty seconds in the script. Pass.
I sought out the original enterprise bridge for a chance to sit in the original Captain’s chair (one of the original three: the first is in the Smithsonian and the second was sold to the Vegas STAR TREK EXPERIENCE for millions of credits). Post swiping of card, I did the Kirk hand-to-chin pose while my Lebanese communications officer dialed up her friends in Jordan using the ship-to-surface circuit. And there it was, my chance to look at that main viewing screen from the Captain’s POV in his original rocking chair on the original set of the Enterprise Bridge. And a little pocket of personal subspace came full circle. The television was finally watching me.
To wit, the original bridge is a very cramped place to have phaser fights and lose it. Did you ever watch the show? I’m surprised more red shirts didn’t split their heads open on the railing. But what really split my head open was $24.99 for one 8×10 of that experience, with superimposed original crew members in the composite. And that I couldn’t use my own camera in there. Pass.
Other Swipe-card access includes Picard’s chair on the NEXT GEN bridge, the transporter room, the Engineering stations on the Enterprise D, and the armory on the Enterprise NX (mentioned in the brochure but nowhere to be found). The transporter room pic is one of those “lenticular photos” where tilting the image causes you to beam off the pad. Only $24.99 per. Pass.
Long Beach is loaded to the gills with lost people, and some of them want to drain you of your currency, harvest your phone number, and/or convert you to some cult while you’re still weak from seeing for the first time that the phasers and tricorders are just toys up close. And these people, sadly, have decided that the dome next to the Queen Mary is an excellent place to get this pocket-fleecing business accomplished among the converted and the faithful. And this conventioneer attitude on behalf of the Tour absolutely ruined it for me. I’m not spending $125 on DVDs of something I can put together in iPhoto.
Towards the back of the exhibition hall is a six minute movie in some kind of state-of-the-art Encounter Theater. Wil Wheaton and Tim Russ are trapped in a poorly-written simulation that breaks continuity with the established history of the characters they played. I’m glad my heart isn’t where my liver is, or I would have passed out from the illogic of spending millions on a tribute film that pays no attention to core audience. Pass.
In the back are two full-motion, shuttlecraft-looking show-based flight simulators that absolutely suck. It’s better to wait in line for the ones that spin around 360 degrees and we didn’t. Ever done STAR TOURS at Disneyland? Worse. PASS.
There’s one worthy unmolested moment: the Guardian of Forever set. I took this shitty iPhoto to remember the exact moment I jumped through it.
STAR TREK: THE TOUR
Queen Mary Dome, Long Beach
Ends this Sunday, March 2
Tickets and Information